Mission accomplished for both sides? Steve Bruce, well known for his defensive tactics, seems to have simple survival in mind for his Hull City. Meanwhile Paul Lambert may have set up his Aston Villa to play for a win, but by the final fifteen minutes his enthusiasm seemed to have waned, and the visitors were content to settle for a point. Still, that was Villa’s second clean sheet in three league matches, so they’ve got something to smile about.
Those who watched this match, however, found little to lift the spirits. Hull put in a grand total of six shots, just one of them on target — and, let’s remember, this from the side that was playing at home. In fact, the Tigers’ best chance came before they’d even reached the 15 minute mark. Stephen Quinn looked set to latch on to a ball from Danny Graham, but Leandro Bacuna slid in to knock the ball out for a corner.
Shortly thereafter, Gabby Agbonlahor found himself in a bit of space. The Villa attacker turned and put in his shot, but the ball was pushed wide by Allan McGregor. Agbonlahor, enjoying his first outing back from injury, tried again shortly after the interval, but his shot went just wide of goal. As Lambert became more convinced that his side would be taking away a draw rather than a win, he replaced Agbonlahor with Jordan Bowery, and Ashley Westwood with shoot-on-sight Aleksandar Tonev.
After about the hour mark, Hull gave up pretending to attack, keeping themselves entrenched in their half. When they did venture forward, the Tigers often self-destructed. Although Graham was capable of getting himself into threatening positions, he lacked service, with Ahmed Elmohamady’s crosses standing out as particularly woeful. But with Bruce aiming for survival rather than spectacle, there’s little reason to work on the finer points of football.
Aston Villa Starting XI: Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar, Clark, El Ahmadi, Westwood (Tonev 75), Weimann, Luna, Delph, Agbonlahor (Bowery 75), Kozak
Substitutes: Steer, Baker, Herd, Bennett, Sylla
Hull City Starting XI: McGregor; Rosenior, Figueroa, Faye, Davies; Huddlestone, Livermore, Elmohamady (Meyler 85), Quinn (Boyd 69); Aluko, Graham
Substitutes: Harper, Bruce, McShane, Sagbo, Proschwitz